The makeover Chrysler performed on its large sedan for the 2011 model year was extremely successful. The 300 still feels like a big, broad-shouldered hunk of American muscle, but it exudes a surprising amount of European flair, thanks to LED headlamps, a stellar interior, and an available panoramic sunroof. Lest you think the company is content to rest on its laurels for 2012, Chrysler has made a surprising number of revisions. Two new trim levels — the 300S and the 300C Luxury Series — join the fold, allowing buyers to add a sporty look and sumptuous cabin materials, respectively. Cars equipped with the 3.6-liter V-6 are now fitted with a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission and are once again available with all-wheel drive. The biggest news for 2012 is the 300’s biggest engine. The performance-tuned SRT8 model rejoins the 300 lineup after a yearlong hiatus, and it’s better than ever. A 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 provides a muscular 470 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque, and adaptive dampers pull double duty, curbing body roll on the track and soaking up bumps on the road. In fact, even the lesser 300 models offer a remarkably pleasant drive. With the advent of the eight-speed automatic on six-cylinder models, there’s arguably less need than ever to opt for the 5.7-liter Hemi. The 3.6-liter V-6 offers respectable power without resorting to typical eight-cylinder gluttony, and the smooth-shifting eight-speed transmission both aids acceleration and bolsters fuel economy.
Drive: Rear-wheel, 4-wheel
Trim Levels: 300, Limited, 300S, 300C, 300C Luxury Series, SRT8
Body Style: Sedan, 5-passenger
Engines: 3.6L V-6, 283 hp, 260 lb-ft
5.7L V-8, 363 hp, 394 lb-ft
6.4L V-8, 470 hp, 470 lb-ft
Transmissions: 5- or 8-speed automatic
Passenger volume: 106.3 cu ft
Cargo space: 16.3 cu ft
Chrysler has added a number of new trim levels for 2012 along with an all-new transmission offering. The 300S and the 300C Luxury Series models join the lineup, as does the muscular, track-tuned 300 SRT8 performance sedan. A new eight-speed automatic transmission is now available on V-6 models.
Multistage front, side, and side curtain air bags are standard, as is a driver’s knee air bag. ABS, traction control, and stability control are included across the board. An optional SafetyTec package adds adaptive HID headlamps, adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning, blind-spot and rear cross-path detection, front and rear park assist, and rear foglamps.
All: 14-19 mpg city/23-31 mpg highway
- High-performance SRT8 model available
- No eight-speed for V-8 models
- A heavy hulk of a sedan
- Road and wind noise
The overhaul continues.
- Audi A6
- BMW 5-series
- Hyundai Genesis
- Mercedes-Benz E-class